Teens and young adults are always coming up with new vernacular that takes us “old fuddy-duddies” to figure out. Take, for instance, “bro code” or “girl code.” The terms refer to the unspoken rules of how you should treat friends in all situations. Some examples of “bro code” are: Have your bro’s back, no matter what; you must respect your bro in all conditions – his house, his parents, his girlfriend, and, most important of all, his car. Some examples of “girl code” are: Don’t hate on girls you don’t know; be honest when your girlfriend asks how she looks. Basically, abiding by the codes isn’t hard – it’s just nonofficial rules made official of how to be a good friend.
Each month, I receive a few emails regarding friends who are dating exes. I refer to the term “ex” here as someone you have gone out with for a while, the shadchan has been dropped, feelings have been developing or already developed, but unfortunately the relationship ended. I’m not referring to “I went out with this girl (or guy) twice – now I found out my friend is dating her (or him).”
I received a letter a few weeks ago from a man who was broken up with by the woman he really thought he “had a chance with.” He said that he had gotten over the breakup, but it took him by surprise when recently his friend asked if it was okay for him to date the woman. It gets a little more complicated. I will let the letter explain itself. But I will only publish some of the email. What I don’t publish is a little rough, not suitable for a family newspaper, but you’ll be able to understand as you read what I was able to publish. The man writing this letter thought his friend had broken “bro code.”
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I don’t understand how a friend can disrespect me the way he has. My roommate in yeshivah who became like a brother in the years after, started to date the girl I went out with. This was the girl that I thought I had a chance with, to marry. He knew how I felt about her and knew I hit bottom when she broke up with me. He even got a few friends to take me out and cheer me up because I was bummed. He said it wasn’t worth it getting all worked up over some girl and I had plenty of other fish in the sea to date. He said all the right things. He was right and I moved on. What I didn’t tell him and my other friends is that I called the shadchan a couple of months afterwards asking if she can call the girl, asking to reconsider and give me a second chance. I mean this girl was everything I was looking for, plus; I liked her a lot. The answer was no. I didn’t date her again. I kept this part to myself; I didn’t tell anyone.
The other day, my “good” friend tells me that he was redt to her and wanted to know how I felt about it. How did he think I felt about it? I said I would be hurt if he went out because he knows exactly how I felt about her and what I went through after she broke up with me. He said that he didn’t know what to say because he thought I wouldn’t mind. He admitted to already having gone out with her, and was just asking me now, in case anything comes of it. He didn’t want me to be blindsided by this. Is he kidding me? He of all people knows what this girl meant to me while we were going out and afterwards. He agreed to date her and has dated her without telling me? Now he comes clean and wants me to be okay with it? Where’s his loyalty to our friendship? Is this how he treats a “good friend”? He broke code! You don’t go out with your friend’s ex, you just don’t. He went behind my back. I can’t get over it. He knew all about her from me. But, what, now he wanted an up-close look? I guess he liked what he saw. He can’t believe that I’m angry about this, because he said it was months ago and I said I was over it. That’s not the point, and he knows it. He knows what he did.”
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Yossi’s letter continued. But it’s obvious his feelings were hurt; he feels betrayed by his friend. You don’t need to read the rest to see where this letter is heading. I have communicated with Yossi a couple of times. He has allowed me to publish a portion of my response – a portion, because I too got rough with him. I was honest and did my best to get this “bro code” notion out of his thinking process. You can say I “got real” with him.
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…Yes, friends should always be honest with each other, but you have no right to dictate who anyone can and can’t date. Your friend thought he was doing the right thing by “coming clean,” although I don’t think the term is used correctly here, because your friend didn’t do anything wrong in my opinion. The shidduch pool isn’t that deep or wide. Being in it yourself, you should know that. You should know that people are redt to friends, cousins, and neighbors of those they have already gone out with. I even know a pair of siblings redt to each other! The shadchan didn’t notice the last names or addresses were the same, but here were two resumes and both looking for the same type of person. Oy, but it’s a reality.
Yossi, from the way you write and the terminology you used, I feel that you are more part of the American culture than the frum culture. You don’t seem to think as a frum person should, in this instance. You pointed out in the letter that your friend “broke code,” he put girls before friendship. Yes, we all have feelings, and it stings when something like this happens, but can’t you be happy for your friend that he may have found someone? This woman made her choice, and it wasn’t you. You went back a second time, which take guts, because you risked getting turned down, which you were. But at least you asked. I feel for you, because I have been in that position before, being turned down by someone I once dated and tried to date again months after we stopped. But this woman is free to date whomever she wants, and at the moment she and your friend have chosen each other. Your friend may not have known that you went back to the shadchan a second time, but what if he did know? Should he not date someone because it didn’t work out between his friend and this “girl” he was redt to – and the girl who agreed to date him? Are you that childish? Instead of taking your ball home with you so no one can play, you slashed the ball so that no one can ever play with it again. That’s wrong and extremely immature. I have two words for you: “Grow Up!”
These two people may be bashert for each other, and it wasn’t possible for the two of you to be a long-term couple. Can’t you find it in your heart to be happy for your friend? I can’t tell you how many times my friends and I found out that we dated the same fellow and that one of us was the dumpee and also felt heartbroken because the fellow ended things. But none of us would want the other to sit home and become an old maid because we didn’t want a friend dating someone we once had feelings for.
Your friend sounds like someone who cares about you, your friendship, and your feelings. He had no obligation to tell you who he was dating or to ask permission, but he did because he wanted to be honest and not have you think he was hiding anything if something should come from this relationship with this woman. I can tell you that I’m sure you shocked your friend by saying you did not want him dating the woman. He tried to do the right thing, and again in my opinion: You are not being the good friend here. You are the one putting a woman in the middle of your friendship. This is an extremely goyish and selfish way to think. Have your parents demand a refund for all the money they paid to the yeshivah you attended because you obviously learned nothing. Go back to your rebbeim and ask to sit in on a class or two. Pay more attention to “V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha.” Are you willing to lose a friendship over this?
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I continued on. But like I said, it may not be appropriate for young eyes to read all the “realness.” The reason why I published this letter is because I don’t think there is anything wrong with acclimating to the culture of the country you live in; but when that culture overtakes your Jewishness, that is what I have a problem with. I hate to say this, but many Jews in Germany were shocked that they were targeted as they were, because they were so much a part of the German culture, “How can they turn against me? I’m one of them.” No, you are a Jew. I am not trying to compare the two situations, but it scares me to see how your thinking appears to be distorted, and you think more like an American than a Jew who wants the best for him and his friend.
Yes, my daughter sang G-d Bless America by the time she was three, and yes, my doorbell plays the first line of the national anthem. And finally, yes, my mask that I wear when I am forced to, is that of the American flag. But my daughter knew her alef-beis and recited Modeh Ani before she sang G-d Bless America. There is a mezuzah on my door frame and, often, Mordechai Shapiro or Benny Friedman’s music can be heard blaring in my apartment, because my kids love dancing to it and know the words by heart. It is important to have balance and to know who you truly are.
Hatzlachah to you all.